Days late and dollars short by Stephanie Farnsworth

Today we are told

to make amends

as hijabs are torn from heads and burned

as the battle cry becomes ‘white power’

as the ghosts of our nightmares come to rule the world.


Europe and America forgot that radical

meant a new way and

looked on with nostalgia for the years

when the only people who had rights

were the people who could pay for them.


Today we are told

to accept Brexit, Trump and a fascism

that most didn’t vote for;

and those who did

were lied to.


Today we are told

to learn to live with the loss of our humanity

but in a few years

we can ask for our rights back nicely.


When dancing on stars means

spitting on graves

and freedom

is trans people being left with the choice

of hiding or ending,


there can be no unity.


Since July almost every message has been

someone scared for their life.

I am soaked in death.


We are told to be happy;

we’ve taken back control

and the worst will come to pass,

because hope will carry us through.

But who among the worst off can afford hope?


Not the mother who can’t afford health care

for her chronically ill daughter.

Not the forty year old priced out of rehab.

Not the trans youths being told

they’ll be cured

by a therapist

the Vice President recommends.

Not the Polish worker

being told Brexit means

bye, bye.

Not the Muslims in France waiting

for President Le Pen.

Health Risks by Stephanie Farnsworth

Red meat gives you cancer.

That’s what the WHO say

not the band who probably snorted coke

and did tequila shots off any fan

but those guys who it took decades to figure out

that inhaling smoke can be bad for you.

They just warned us of the real danger:

red meat gives you cancer.


A black kid can be dragged out of a car

spat on, have ‘God Save the Queen’

sung like a taunting lullaby

in London city just for carrying a bag.

Then kept locked up because he might know somebody

who knows somebody

who knows of somebody

who talked to somebody

who maybe once had a bad thought about Mr Prime Minister

(who keeps blowing up family homes in Iraq)

because he lives next door to migrants

who have got the same tone

the same beard.

Red meat gives you cancer.

Brown beards get you jailed.


Red meat, Layla’s ranking on the market.

Women nervously playing with the silverware.

Not tuna, ham or mutton.

Prime fun, blood cascading down

later onto the pavement

two men followed

because she needed the red meat of their own.

Cops asked if she provoked them

how many partners has she had.

Did they know she was a bisexual?

Be warned that red meat gives you cancer.


Red meat gives you cancer

but herbs to help with the pain

gives you prison time

and doctors have to card patients now

so why not if we don’t want to treat them

we can at least take them to a steak house

give them a decent meal

I mean we want them dead, right?

That’s how bombs will stop the refugees.

Bombs for resolution.

Some votes in Whitney gives jurisdiction

parliament to say everything

but say nothing of the Syrians.


Red meat gives you cancer

but the obvious pain of

the cold in your joints

hasn’t changed perception

when energy prices are as controlled

as the sector.

Heat, eat, light, sight.

Can feel wind pipe crackling like frost on a bitter morning

but nothing to do as now

red meat gives you cancer.

Home by Stephanie Farnsworth

Walking to the shops in bed clothes

taken as some indication of the population

like it happens in droves

rather than just a person feeling exhaustion.


What’s here, toffs ask?

Like our destruction for thirty years

wasn’t really their task

harbour fishermen struggle for lures.


But still they stand battered by the winds

it’s meant to be a new development plot

help unemployment dwindle

a new hand out we’ve got.


Still they stand.


Check out the harbour view

the stunning horizon, with the ships so few.


The ship yards are sunk.

With the era of skin heads and punks.

Hundreds washed up

standing on the beach, watching and waiting.


So we walked inlands.

Hoping for more than remnants

for the regeneration was under way

for investments, the new city is the new bay.


It floundered

people left stranded  and blamed .

As though from no jobs they were to gain.


Waiting in the taxi queue

a girl kicked a whole in the door right with her shoe

this old guy gave me cash for the bus

while this busker guy sang ‘I will always love you’.


Few will ever understand

what it means to live in Sunderland

They launch pity, scorn and derision

forgetting the poverty was their decision.